How Startup Recruiters Are Redefining Niche Hiring — Passive Hiring

Ruhi Mahajan
5 min readFeb 16, 2017


Choosing the happiest one from the happy lot!

Gone are the days of battling with a pile of CVs followed by random calling. Today, the Startup Recruiters have some real errands to run and actual challenges to undertake. The age old process, of putting up a job post and screening profiles based on the application intake, has taken a backstage since quite sometime now. This is the era of millennials. People have become deliberate about their Jobs and career options they pursue. Arbitrary vacancy/ opportunity calls or emails do not appeal to real people anymore.

In this world of cut throat competition, everyone is striving to do better than the other in respective walks of life. Jobs and career define people. Getting into an apt job/ finding an apt candidate is where the hiring equilibrium stands. Popping up of myriad number of Startups is pulling the reigns of skills and talent high. Each startup has a niche product/service; hence the requirement for talent with such niche skills comes into the picture. Like I mentioned above, filling a position has become way more than what it was in the past. It’s a behavioural science in itself and Employers name it Passive Hiring.

Passive hiring is when you search for and recruit candidates who are not looking for a change in job. Such candidates are generally doing well in their jobs and are happy wherever they are. Passive candidates are the best targets for Startups. These candidates know their stuff inside out and to encroach them is an arduous task. Having spent a substantial time in the Recruitment world, after a lot of permutations and combinations of efforts, I’ve realised what does the core of passive hiring lie in.

Job Posts and cold calling don’t help; Networking is the key

Thorough research about candidate’s social presence, offer them what motivates them

Compensate with Purpose

Patience and perseverance take you a long way


Thousands of amazing people exist around you in the world. How do you know where to find whom? Who is the one that fits the bill best? Oh well! That’s not easy to find for sure, until you actually get to know them and speak to them in person. Or maybe there’s an alternative to this, I call it ‘network’. The rule says, every good person knows at least 3 great people and if we’re able to connect to each of the 3 in our direct network, taking the lead ahead, we’ll end up knowing almost everyone that we’d need to. Staying active with the network and contributing to it helps us in getting in touch with the kind of people we aspire to. And building a good network is certainly not a child’s play. It take a real toll of effort to showcase oneself to the best of what we are, so we get a brilliantly laid network.

Recruiters tend to/are expected to have a good network owing to the nature of their jobs. Meeting like minded people and getting involved and genuinely engaged in networking activities comes way handy for a recruiter. Closing positions become easy when we know someone who knows our target prospect and he may get us introduced somehow or the other.

Networking is like making friends, everyone has a story, and you got to be genuinely interested in them to be a part of it, as rightly said in ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.


Part one done, found the (maybe) right prospect and got the contact details through the network, what next? This one not intended to be a cold call, we got to have ample information about the candidate, Google and social media comes to a recruiter’s rescue a long way. A thorough research on the candidate helps us decide if this (maybe) right prospect is THE one or not.If the research results come positive, half the battle is won. Next it takes a call or catch up to be scheduled with the prospect and bang on!

Research about the candidate not only gives us a confirmation about the candidate being worth talking to or not, it also helps us build rapport with the candidate when we get to have the actual face off with him/her.

Dale Carnegie says, “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours”, says . A thorough research about someone gives us the right ammunition to start a conversation and take it forth naturally.


Beyond a certain point in the career, money seems to do no good when it comes to luring someone for a job switch. (This is most likely true for Passive candidates who’re happy contributing to their present employers.) That is a different league of candidates. For them Purpose comes above compensation. Offering them manifolds hike in salaries is just a futile attempt. For such candidates we need to compensate with purpose. What is the problem they ‘ll solve, purpose of their work; these take a command high above in the minds of the passive candidates.

The thoughtful research about them facilitates the recruiter to tidily connect their interests and passion to the job role. You’re taken more seriously when you factually state what is it that you’ve found apt in the candidate’s profile that, you think, will help you solve the purpose you have forward. Money doesn’t satiate their hunger of solving a purpose. Get them a real purpose and not just bank on money to bring them onboard.

Playing on the compensation front keeps the journey confined, however when a job is sold with purpose the motivation stays alive forever. Purpose is a never ending road.


Though the steps above seem fool proof, still they don’t help you pull out a passive candidate all the time. Reasons (prior commitments, relocation constraint, etc) beyond money and purpose sometime ties the candidates to their present employers. Rule of the thumb says, do not close the book when the chapter ones gets over. Bookmark it! Consistence in keeping a connect with the candidates makes your chances brighter. If they’re convinced on the company and purpose, whenever they have a shirk up with the inevitable constraints, they are sure to think of you. And you win! You’ll never be in no need of awesome people :)

A recruiter never gives up on the bright prospects. They are always on the hit list, all the time :P

Never let the connection go cold. Be very persistent with the engagement touch points with the prospects. Be genuinely happy in their happiness.

We are hiring at Kayako.